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Roto Tiller Racing Features "Hot Rods Of Sod"
The annual "World Championship Rotary Tiller Race" held in Emerson, Arkansas, attracts hot rod tillers capable of reaching speeds of over 22 mph. Contestants come from all over Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
  "We're not talking about garden-variety tillers," says organizer Bill Dailey. "These are souped up machines that some like to call Šhot rods of sod.' We call the racers Špilots,' and our divisions include Dirt Slingers, which are built from scratch; Rip Roarers, which are modified for speed; and simple stock tillers. There are categories for men, women, and even kids aged 10 and under using 2 hp flower garden models."
  Some of the modified tillers that compete have motorcycle and ATV engines and most have specially designed tines that are built for speed. Often contestants come prepared with one set of tines for mud and another for dry-ground racing.
  The contests are between two entrants at a time on a 200-ft. long plowed track.
  "Tiller racing has become a family tradition for some, and they actually form racing teams that include pilots, mechanics and timed trials before the championships."
  The annual race began in 1990 and is held the last Saturday in June. It's just one aspect of the Emerson community's "PurpleHull Pea Festival," an event named after a backyard vegetable that's hugely popular in the area.
  "Now that the festival is 15 years old, the demand for Emerson PurpleHull Peas has grown to the point that some farmers in the area are now selling peas commercially, and one is even gearing up to ship Emerson PurpleHulls all over the nation," says Dailey. "Usually a festival derives its name and theme from a local industry, but here, a local industry is developing from a festival."
  PurpleHull peas are often referred to as "pinkeye purplehull peas" and are close cousins to the less tasty black-eyed peas.
  The World Championship Rotary Tiller Race is sponsored by Weyerhaeuser and includes cash and plaques to first place winners.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Dailey, 1120 Cambridge Circle, Benton, Arkansas 72015 (ph 501 315-7373; email: purplehull@juno.com; website: http://www.purplehull.com).

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2004 - Volume #28, Issue #5